Posts Tagged ‘cancer treatment’

Tackling Cancer on World Cancer Day*

World Cancer DayWe experience the burden of cancer here in Georgia and throughout the U.S., but cancer is not just an American problem. It is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, cancer accounted for 7.6 million deaths (about 13% of all deaths) in 2008 and that number is projected to rise to 13.1 million deaths in 2030.

Every day, my Winship colleagues and I seek to identify better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure cancer. Fortunately, we do not work in isolation. Our efforts are part of a global collaborative of cancer researchers and doctors, and one of the most rewarding aspects of this work is joining forces with scientists from all over the world who are committed to a shared goal of ending cancer.

Imagine a global community of scientists in continual conversation about the most up-to-date mindset for treating cancer. We are a vital part of that conversation.

I made two international trips late last year which captured the spirit of collaboration in cancer research. One trip was to Australia, stopping first at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney, and then on to Brisbane, where a unique partnership called the Queensland Emory Development Alliance (QED) is bringing together outstanding researchers from Emory, The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), to collaborate on new research projects primarily in the realm of cancer and infectious disease.

Several Winship faculty including William Dynan and Dennis Liotta are currently collaborating on cancer research projects with new colleagues at UQ and QIMR. My visit to Brisbane has resulted in early work towards furthering these and other collaborations. The World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney highlighted a number of important findings in our struggle against the leading cancer killer resulting from work conducted among my colleagues in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

In December, I flew to Chengdu, China, as a guest of the Chinese Society of Radiation Oncology (CSTRO) to deliver the keynote address at the annual CSTRO Symposium. As evidenced in this conference and in my subsequent visits to large cancer centers in Bejing and Jinan, there have been remarkable advances in cancer research and cancer care in China. There is also a tremendous level of collaboration between investigators at major Chinese universities and faculty at Winship and other major American cancer centers. Currently my colleagues and I are working each week on a clinical trial underway at eight Chinese cancer centers, comparing stereotactic radiation to surgery for patients with early stage lung cancer. I had a chance to meet with all of my colleagues conducting this research in China during my visit there and to celebrate this progress!

I’m extremely proud of the work performed here at Winship that contributes to advancing cancer research throughout the world. International conferences, as well as the many times we host scientists from other countries here on the Emory campus, enable us to share information and resources and benchmark our own contributions. But it’s when I return to Winship and see patients who are benefiting from discoveries made by my colleagues here and elsewhere, the value of collaboration truly hits home.

Seeing even one patient improve from the advances we make in cancer research and treatment is a reward worth sharing with the world.

*February 4th is World Cancer Day, when international health organizations support the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in promoting ways to ease the global burden of cancer. This year’s theme, “Debunk the myths,” focuses on improving general knowledge about cancer in order to reduce stigma and dispel misconceptions about the disease. More information: http://www.worldcancerday.org

Author: Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director, Winship Cancer Institute

About Dr. Walter Curran
Walter J. Curran Jr., MDWalter J. Curran, M.D. was appointed Executive Director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in 2009. He joined Emory in January 2008, as the Lawrence W. Davis Professor and Chairman of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology. He also serves as Group Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a National Cancer Institute-funded cooperative group, a position he has held since 1997. Curran has been named a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Chair in Cancer Research as well as a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.

Dr. Curran has been a principal investigator on over thirty National Cancer Institute-supported grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors. He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma and for leading the randomized trial which defined the best therapeutic approach to patients with locally advanced lung cancer. He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and is a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE). Dr. Curran is the only radiation oncologist to have ever served as Director of a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center.

Dr. Curran is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Curran ranked among the top ten principal investigators in terms of National Cancer Institute grant awards in 2013, and was first among investigators in Georgia, and first among cancer center directors.

Winship: Year in Review

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory UniversityAs we near the end of 2013, it’s common to reflect on events from the past year, both the challenging and the inspiring. For the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, it was an exciting year as strides were made in many areas, including enrolling over 800 patients in clinical trials, breaking ground on the Emory Proton Therapy Center, performing our 4,000th bone marrow and stem cell transplant and continuing to pioneer exciting research discoveries, such as the development of drug therapies aimed to cure brain cancer.

Winship opened its doors in 1937 and was the first center to provide advanced care for cancer patients in the Southeast. Today, as Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute – designated cancer center, Winship is among the nation’s leading institutions as it continues to pursue a future where cancer ceases to exist.

Through the generosity of donations of any size, as well as fundraising events like the Winship Win the Fight 5K, the physicians, staff and researchers at Winship are working harder than ever to achieve that goal for the residents of Georgia and beyond. The video below recaps some of the 2013 achievements as we prepare to welcome 2014 with eagerness and hopefulness!

Emory’s Bone Marrow Transplant Team Turns Despair into Hope

Debbie Barth suffered from aplastic anemia, a disease in which bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells, and she was getting worse. She had had blood infusion after blood infusion, but they no longer helped her. She was possibly facing death after two years of living with the illness.

Debbie was being treated at an Atlanta hospital where doctors told her they would not give her a bone marrow transplant, which was her only real hope for surviving the chronic condition that was stealing more of her life each day.

Bone Marrow Transplant Patient

Debbie Barth, pictured at far left behind her mother Joanie, with family.

“I was at the end of my rope, and they wouldn’t even take me,” Debbie said, still incredulous that she could be turned away for what could be live-saving care.

Fortunately for Debbie and her family, someone told her about Dr. Edmund K. Waller at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and the Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center. She made an appointment to see him, and that’s when everything changed.

Debbie’s mother Joanie went to the appointment with her. Debbie was again skeptical to hear what a doctor had to say, but this time it was good news. “I can’t tell you how I felt when we got into that room with him that first day,” said Joanie Barth.

“Instead of saying there was no hope,” she recalls, with the help of a bone marrow transplant, “Dr. Waller said my daughter had a “50% to 80% chance of survival.”

“And I said, ‘Dr. Waller, can you tell me whether it’s closer to 50 or 80?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Ms. Barth, Debbie is going to make it.’”

“I just started crying and crying because for the first time, we had hope,” Joanie Barth said. “When he spoke the whole room just filled with hope.”

Many patients like Debbie, who had been told she was too high-risk for a transplant, arrive at the Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center having exhausted all other options and time. Some have been turned away from other bone marrow treatment centers because their cases are extremely complicated, or because their prognoses are not good. Now, for patients like Debbie, there is hope.

The Emory Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center is one of the most experienced in the nation, with a team of dedicated physicians who treat patients and not just the disease. With experience unmatched in the Southeast for treating hematologic cancers, the Winship team is expert in treating the even the most complicated of cases. This fall, Winship physicians will perform their 4,000th bone marrow transplant.

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Caregivers of Cancer Patients Need Care Too

Cancer Caregivers SupportFamily members and close friends often take the role of a “caregiver” when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer and begins the cancer treatment process. The caregiver provides physical and emotional care for the cancer patient. Although the caregiver takes this responsibility on in love, they can also easily burn out. The stress and consequences of caregiving can take a toll on both the patient and the caregiver. Some signs that the caregiver might be experiencing caregiver stress or burn out include:

  • Change in weight
  • Change in the amount or pattern of sleep
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Increased anger or frustration
  • Lack of time for their own needs
  • Feeling overwhelmed or trapped
  • Feeling misunderstood or unsupported
  • Missing or delaying their own medical care
  • Stopping routine exercise, socialization or other healthy daily activities
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

It is imperative that caregivers take care of themselves and not feel guilty about doing this. If the caregiver is not healthy, he or she will not be able to effectively care for the patient either. Some suggestions for caregivers to reduce burnout and improve self care:

  • Reduce Personal Stress -Recognize the symptoms of stress, identify the source of stress, identify what you can and cannot change and take action.
  • Set goals – We are more likely to achieve goals if they are broken into small steps. An example – I will walk 15 minutes every day.
  • Seek Solutions – Once you have identified a problem, taking action to solve it can change the situation and also change your attitude and give you more confidence.
  • Communicate Constructively – Use “I” messages instead of “You” messages, respect the rights and feelings of others, be specific and clear, be a good listener.
  • Ask for and Accept Help – Be honest with yourself and ask for and accept help when needed.
  • Talking to you Physician – Ask for medical advice when you don’t understand the needs of the person receiving care but also seek medical support for yourself.
  • Start to exercise – Exercise promotes better sleep, reduces tension and depression, and increases energy and alertness.
  • Learning from your emotions -Emotions are useful tools for understanding what is happening to us. So, pay attention to them.

Caregiving can be a personally fulfilling and rewarding experience. Take care of yourself in order to best care for your loved ones. They will appreciate your love and care and understand your needs as well.

About James Hankins, MSW, LCSW
James is the Director of Patient Support and Social Services at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. James specializes in providing support and counseling services for patients and their caregivers dealing with all types of cancer. He graduated from Michigan State University and received a Masters in Social Work from Wayne State University. James has spent the majority of his 20 years of professional service focusing on mental health issues related to changes in physical health with special emphasis on the challenges facing caregivers.

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Sign-up to Learn the Biology of Cancer

biology-cancerHave you ever wondered about the biology behind cancer? If so, join Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Gregg Orloff, Ph.D, on Tuesday, August 6 at noon for an interactive, live, web chat on the “Biology of Cancer.” He will be available to discuss questions such as:

  • What is cancer?
  • What causes cancer?
  • What can you do to prevent cancer?
  • How is cancer diagnosed and treated?
  • What is the role of infectious organisms like viruses in cancer?
  • Why and how cancer spreads.
  • Why do cancer drugs not always work.

This interesting chat will open your eyes to what cancer is and what you can do to help reduce the chances that you or your family members will be diagnosed with the disease.

Chat Sign Up

Bringing Survivorship Tools Closer to Home – Winship at the Y(MCA)

Most people are aware of the important role proper diet and exercise plays in disease prevention and management. At the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, we strongly recommend our patients maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and sustain a healthy diet both during and after cancer diagnosis. We encourage this not only so our patients can feel stronger and healthier during cancer treatment and return to a healthier life after treatment, but also because scientific evidence shows that proper diet and regular physical activity can help lower the chances of cancer coming back.

In fact, the American Cancer Society just released new guidelines on Nutrition and Exercise for cancer survivors. As most survivors know, life after cancer is not always easy, and returning to what was once considered “normal” prior to their cancer diagnosis does not always happen. At Winship, we consider all of our patients survivors from day one. To help them navigate their survivorship journey, our physicians and care team members are committed to making sure all survivors have easy access to the wide variety of support and programs available to them.

Recently, our team at Winship has teamed up with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to make another lifestyle and support resource available to our patients. Winship at the Y was established to provide cancer survivors with better access to specialized exercise programs. YMCA wellness coaches and staff will be trained by the team at Winship— including Winship’s nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and dieticians—on the specific fitness and exercises needs of cancer survivors.

The program, which is unlike any other in the country, is open to any cancer survivor, not just patients at the Winship Cancer Institute. Joan Giblin, a family nurse practitioner and Director of Winship’s Survivorship Program, developed this program from her desire to provide easily accessible cancer support to survivors in their own communities.

To learn more about ‘Winship at the Y’, watch Joan talk with CBS Atlanta reporter Jennifer Mayerle in the video below:

“Winship at the Y” locations:

Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA
3692 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30319
770-451-9622

Decatur Family YMCA
1100 Clairemont Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
404-377-9622

Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA
3655 Preston Ridge Road
Alpharetta, GA 30005
770-664-1220

Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead
1160 Moores Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30327
404-350-9292

Summit Family YMCA
1765 East Highway 34
Newnan, GA 30265
770-254-9622

J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA
2985 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
770-963-1313

Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA
2220 Campbellton Road
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-523-9622

We Are Winship – Survivors from Day One

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Update: Winship has been rated “Outstanding” by the National Cancer Institute in their NCI-designation renewal. Find out why >

As a cancer research, treatment and care center, there are lots of things that make who we are at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, what we do, and how we do it, special.

It’s been said that “once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” We know that our patients put a lot in the hands of the team on which they depend for their cancer treatment. Countless hours of research into the latest and greatest cancer treatment technologies, investigation into who offers those treatments, evaluation of NCI-cancer center designation, precious time and energy spent answering questions about what matters most, the patient experience, and perhaps most importantly, their hope.

Who will treat me? How will they treat me? Would other patients choose Winship for their cancer treatment if they had decision to make over again? Besides the treatment, what about the intangibles? Will my treatment team care about me? Do I even have a team? Who will give me hope?

Despite the wide variety of fears, questions, concerns and worries abound for newly diagnosed cancer patients, there is only one constant at Winship: every patient is a survivor from day one. New patient cases are evaluated by a team of multidisciplinary specialists who meet as a board to leverage their unique areas expertise in the collaboration and development of each patient’s individualized treatment strategy.

As Dr. Bassel El-Rayes puts it, “You may only see one or two physicians, but more than likely at least 13 have been involved in formulating your treatment plan.” And as one of our patients puts it, “This is when you realize that you have a team at Winship to help you fight this.”

If you or someone you know is up against the fight of his or her life, let our patients be the ones who tell you what it means to be cared and treated for at the Winship Cancer Institute. There are those who will tell you, “You feel like you’re part of a process that’s fighting cancer. If there is an answer out there, it’s in that building.” There are those who feel comforted by the members of our care team who themselves have won the fight against cancer and now volunteer their time to help others on their journey(s), “They’re people who have already walked through those halls. They’ve been in the shoes you’re in now.” There are those who will tell you about the confidence they have in treatment technology at Winship, or about the importance of elements such as our healing garden and the words of inspiration on our walls that help restore peace and build courage. There are those who will tell you about the support groups, monthly events, and educational resources to answer even the hardest questions. But most importantly, they will all tell you about their treatment team, or family, at Winship and how they made them feel.

We’re here to help provide the foundation for hope and strength in the fight against cancer, because as the saying goes, “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Find out how we support our patients in their journeys. Find out what it means to be a patient at Winship. Find out what it means to have hope as a survivor. Find out what it means to be a survivor from day one.

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Understanding Nutrition’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Nutrition's Role in Fighting CancerMaintaining a healthy diet is important, especially during cancer treatment. Your body is stressed– both from the treatment and cancer itself. It’s imperative to make sure that you’re getting the proper nutrition, vitamins, and minerals you need to stay strong and fight infections.

According to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Nutrition Guidelines, it’s best to eat a diet consisting of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and foods low in fat.

Omer Kucuk, MD and Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University says, “there are bioactive compounds in foods, particularly in fruits and vegetables. These bioactive compounds have potent anti-cancer activities; for example, broccoli contains indole 3 carbinol, which has been shown to have anti-cancer affects, especially in prostate cancer and breast cancer.”

While certain foods have been show to help prevent cancer, evidence also shows that specific food compounds, such as soy isoflavones and curcumin, can increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

“We have found that soy isoflavones enhanced the efficacy of cancer treatment, specifically the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In addition to that, soy isoflavones may also prevent the side effects of these two cancer treatments,” reports Dr. Kucuk. Soy isoflavones are plant-derived compounds with estrogen-like activity that may help protect against hormone-dependent cancers according to ACS. Get more information on soy isoflavones and how proper nutrition can help during cancer treatments.

More in-depth studies are currently underway to find which bioactive compounds in foods aid in cancer treatment and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. The American Cancer Society reports “that a higher intake of vegetables may have a helpful effect on recurrence or survival for breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers, but this is not definite.”

Still, ACS recommends that cancer survivors get at least five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day due to the overall benefit they provide. All cancer and cancer treatments affect the body differently. An individualized nutrition plan based on your likes and dislikes, and what your stomach can handle, is going to be beneficial during your treatment journey. A registered dietitian can help you and your family answer questions and address concerns about managing your diet, weight, treatment side effects, and supplement information.

If you’re looking for specific tips, ideas, and ways to incorporate cancer fighting foods into your diet, check out the transcript from our online live chat on Nutrition’s Role in Fighting Cancer. Also, check out Emory Healthcare’s recipe page for some easy, tasty and healthy dishes!

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An Intro to Pancreatic Cancer Part II: Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

 

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Last week, we gave you an intro to Pancreatic Cancer, including statistics, information on the types of pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic cancer risk factors. As promised, this week, we’re following up with information on preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer of the pancreas.

Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Much of the advice you’ll see for cancer prevention is similar across cancers. A few things you can do to help improve your health and fight off cancer, including pancreatic cancer, include: quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Diagnosing Cancer of the Pancreas

Diagnosing cancer of the pancreas can involve a variety of tests and assessments. As is true in any attempt to diagnose a medical condition, a thorough evaluation of a patient’s medical history, risk factors, and symptoms is conducted. Imaging tests, including CT, MRI, PET, ultrasound, and others may be used along with potential biopsies and blood tests.

Treating Cancer of the Pancreas

There are three main modes of treatment in combating pancreatic cancer:

  1. Surgery – Parts or the entire pancreas may be removed depending on the location and stage of the pancreatic cancer. The whipple procedure can be used when the cancer is in the head of the pancreas and involves the removal of the head of the pancreas and parts of the bile ducts, small intestine, and stomach; distal pancreatectomy removes the body and tail of the pancreas and the spleen; and total pancreatectomy removes the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, a portion of the stomach, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, the spleen, and nearby lymph nodes.
  2. Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is medication delivered to the body to eliminate cancer cells or greatly reduce their effect. It targets cells that divide rapidly, a characteristic of most cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used to support and enhance other cancer treatment modalities.
  3. Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses ionizing radiation energy to kill cancer cells and shrink cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy serves to either destroy cancerous cells or damage these cells to impede the division and growth of the cancer.

Physicians at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University specialize in these treatments, while researchers at Winship are exploring new and novel treatments for pancreatic cancer, including a number of clinical trials for pancreatic cancer treatment.

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Beating Breast & Prostate Cancer with the Help of 11 Alive News

There are over 5 million people in the U.S. battling breast and prostate cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting American women. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the U.S. So how can we take action to help the 5 million+ already fighting a battle against breast or prostate cancer, and how do we increase awareness and healthy habits to help lower incidence rates in the future?

One of the most important steps we can take in the fight against cancer is education. That’s why we’re partnering with 11 Alive News to bring our community an informative special covering both breast and prostate cancer, including insights from our team at the Winship Cancer Institute on cancer screening, prevention, risk, diagnosis, treatment options, and survivorship.

Cutting Edge Cancer Treatment SpecialIf you didn’t already know it, as an Atlanta resident, you have Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center in your back yard. As such, the  And did you also know that the cancer research that’s produced at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is used not only to advance technology and treatment options for cancer patients, but also to serve as an educational foundation to help our community make smart decisions when it comes to their health? As a leading cancer institute its our goal to raise community awareness around cancer through education.

11 Alive will feature their special on beating breast and prostate cancer on Saturday, October 8th at 8:00pm EST. If you’re able to, we highly encourage you to check it out. We’ll be tweeting live during the special, so if you’re watching it, you can join the discussion with us and the 11 Alive crew as well! Simply use the hashtag #cuttingedgemed If there are any questions we can’t answer for you, we’ll get you answers from our doctors. If you have questions now, you’re more than welcome to leave them in the comments below, and we’ll get in touch with our doctors to get you answers. Hope to see you on Twitter on the 8th!